Insanely long copyright terms are how the culture industries avoid competing with their own back catalogs. Imagine that we still had a copyright term that maxed out at 28 years, the regime the first Americans lived under. The shorter term wouldn’t in itself have much effect on output or incentives to create. But it would mean that, today, every book, song, image, and movie produced before 1984 was freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. Under those conditions, would we be anywhere near as willing to pay a premium for the latest release? In some cases, no doubt. But when the baseline is that we already have free, completely legal access to every great album, film, or novel produced before the mid-80s—more than any human being could realistically watch, read, or listen to in a lifetime—I wouldn’t be surprised if our consumption patterns became a good deal less neophilic, or at the very least, prices on new releases had to drop substantially to remain competitive.

Julian Sanchez with an alternate hypothesis for why we have such ridiculously long copyright terms. (via marathonpacks)

Though, the only part of this that hasn’t happened is the “completely legal” aspect. Prices on new all releases have dropped substantially as a result, but are we actually much less neophilic than we used to be?

(Might have to split this by type of cultural product as well. Saw some discussion on Twitter the other week re: how when Alien or Blade Runner came out, you would probably have gone to see the movie once, and your fandom thereafter would be completely based off the memory of this single viewing. You wouldn’t be watching tapes/DVDs/Blu-Rays of old movies regularly, but you also wouldn’t be watching something new you really liked multiple times, as many people I know do. This doesn’t apply the same way to music or books, though.)

  1. unrational reblogged this from marathonpacks
  2. minimoonstar reblogged this from marathonpacks
  3. barthdoesthings reblogged this from marathonpacks
  4. marathonpacks posted this

Blog comments powered by Disqus